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Rugby

06th Apr 2023

The Top 20 most important rugby players in Ireland, right now

Patrick McCarry

Ireland captain

Some big moves in the top five, after that Grand Slam success.

Welcome to the fourth edition of the ‘Top 20 Irish rugby players’.

After following up a 2022 Triple Crown with a winning Test Series in New Zealand, an unbeaten November and a 2023 Six Nations Grand Slam, picking a ‘Top 20’ of the best rugby players in Ireland is a mighty task.

So many players have had exceptional past 14 months and Irish rugby has never looked in better health. Added to the U20s winning a second straight Grand Slam, we have Leinster winning just about every game they lace up for and both the men’s and women’s Sevens sides chasing automatic qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

This is the fourth edition of our ‘Top 20 Irish rugby players’ list. We started off after the Six Nations, in March 2022, and updated our rankings after that victorious tour to New Zealand, in July.

Following the Bank of Ireland Nations Series, last November, we updated the list. Johnny Sexton was still top dog but Garry Ringrose was the biggest mover, up 10 places to fifth.

With the nation still basking in Grand Slam glory, and 10 Ireland stars making the Six Nations Team of the Championship, get ready to see some big movers in our Top 20.

Top 20 Irish rugby playerseveral of the ‘Top 20 Irish rugby players’ are pictured here. (Credit: Getty Images)

Big changes in Top 20 Irish rugby players list

The idea behind the list is looking at the players that are the most important to this Ireland team right now, as well as a nod to the players in the best form and making the big plays in big games.

Ryan Baird is a new entry into the Top 20 after an impressive impact in Ireland’s final three games of their Grand Slam campaign. The likes of Tadhg Beirne, Garry Ringrose and Jamison-Gibson Park all drop down. A key factor there was the team continue to put in great performances, and skipping nary a beat, while those players were out injured.

The back three of James Lowe, Mack Hansen and Hugo Keenan are all significant upward movers after having fine championships. Johnny Sexton and Tadhg Furlong remain absolutely vital to Ireland’s success, although both Finlay Bealham and Tom O’Toole proved there is hope even when Furlong does not lace up.

TOP 20 IRISH RUGBY PLAYERS

20. Conor Murray (returns to Top 20)
19. Ryan Baird (new entry)
18. Jack Conan (up one)
17. Bundee Aki (same position)
16. Finlay Bealham (same position)
15. Peter O’Mahony (down five)
14. Robbie Henshaw (same position)
13. Tadhg Beirne (down nine)
12. Jamison Gibson-Park (down three)
11. James Ryan (up one)

Top 20 Irish rugby playersIreland players, from left, James Ryan, Tadhg Furlong and Tadhg Beirne. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile)

10. Garry Ringrose (down five)
9. James Lowe (up six)
8. Mack Hansen (up five)
7. Dan Sheehan (up four)
6. Andrew Porter (up two)
5. Josh van der Flier (down three)
4. Caelan Doris (up two)
3. Tadhg Furlong (same position)
2. Hugo Keenan (up five)
1. Johnny Sexton (same position)

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